Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is a facial skin resurfacing treatment designed to treat a variety of skincare concerns. Chemical peels can target and improve the appearance of skin texture, age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, skin tone, and overall sun damage. 

How It Works

Mild chemical agents are applied to the skin, which makes it blister and promotes eventual peeling of the superficial layers of skin. The basic principle of skin resurfacing is to promote the new generation and reorganization of the superficial layers of the skin, thereby improving the color, texture, and smoothness of the skin. This is done by the removal or intentional injury of the most superficial layers of the skin, which stimulates the growth of new layers of skin. The new skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin.

Multiple different preparations can be used to alter the depth of penetration and thereby the degree of skin resurfacing achieved. Anesthesia depends upon the type of peel used but varies from ice applied prior to peeling to moderate or general sedation.

Ideal Candidates for Chemical Peels

Men and women with fair skin and/or light hair are ideal candidates for chemical peels, as there is less chance for uneven skin tone after the procedure. Whereas men and women with darker skin may have good results depending upon the type of problem being treated, but they have a higher risk of uneven skin tone after the procedure. 

Also, a chemical peel can be customized for patients with pigmented skin-- tailored to their skin and skin needs (acne, scarring). 

Additionally, a chemical peel is recommended for men and women who have fine wrinkles on the face due to sun damage, cigarette smoking, and aging. Those who have more severe wrinkles, skin sags, and bulges may not benefit from a chemical peel and may need other kinds of cosmetic procedures, such as laser resurfacing or dermal tissue fillers (e.g., Juvederm™).

Areas of the Body That Can Be Treated with a Chemical Peel

A chemical peel can be done on the face, neck, or hands. It can be used to:

  • Reduce fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth
  • Treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and aging
  • Improve the appearance of mild scars
  • Treat certain types of acne
  • Reduce age spots, freckles, and dark patches (melasma) due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills
  • Improve the look and feel of skin
  • Improve areas of sun damage

Consultation for Chemical Peel

During your consultation, tell your clinician if you have any history of scarring, cold sores that keep coming back, use of Accutane or facial X-rays.

Before your scheduled procedure, your clinician may ask you to stop taking certain drugs and ask you to prepare your skin by using other medications, such as Retin-A, Renova, or glycolic acid. She may also prescribe antibiotics or antiviral drugs.

The depth of your peel will depend upon the condition of your skin and your goals for treatment. You and your clinician will determine the depth of your peel before treatment. 

At this time, you should also address any questions you may have with your provider, including whether or not you will need someone to drive you home after your procedure.

Chemical Peel Treatment 

A chemical peel is done in our office on an outpatient basis (meaning there is no overnight stay).

After your face is cleaned thoroughly, one or more chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol) will be applied to small areas of your skin. This is done to create a controlled wound, letting new skin take its place. 

At Warmuth Institute of Dermatology, we use SkinMedica peels and Jan Marini chemical peels.

Recovery After A Chemical Peel

Recovery includes a variable amount of redness immediately after treatment, although discomfort is usually minimal. Peeling usually involves redness as well, followed by scaling that ends within 3 to 7 days. Medium-depth and deep peeling may result in swelling and blisters that may break, crust, turn brown, and peel off over a period of 7 to 14 days.

After treatment, you may need bandages for several days on part or all of the treated skin.

Aftercare Instructions to Follow After A Chemical Peel

After a chemical peel, your skin is more sensitive to the sun, so you should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) that protects against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays for several months after treatment. You should also limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and wear a wide-brim hat when you are in the sun.

Chemical Peel Treatment At Warmuth Institute of Dermatology

If you are interested in having a chemical peel treatment, call Warmuth Institute of Dermatology at (856) 358-1500 to schedule a consultation.

Chemical Peel FAQs

Is there much discomfort with a chemical peel?

Most people tolerate treatment with minimal discomfort. You may feel a burning sensation during a chemical peel that lasts about 5 to 10 minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Putting cool compresses on the skin may ease that stinging. For a deeper peel, you may need pain medication during or after treatment.

Are there any complications associated with this treatment?

Some skin types are more likely to develop a temporary or permanent color change in the skin after a chemical peel, especially if you take birth control pills, if you are pregnant, or if you have a family history of brownish discoloration on the face.

Overall, there is a low risk of scarring in certain areas of the face. The removal/injury is superficial enough to prevent scarring while stimulating the deeper skin cells to grow, thus resurfacing the skin. 

For people with a history of herpes outbreaks, there is a small risk of reactivating cold sores. Your doctor can prescribe medication to prevent or treat that.

What kind of results can you expect?

In general, the depth of skin that is injured or removed will determine the overall improvement as well as the recovery time. 

How many treatments are recommended?

You may get additional treatments for mild peels at 1 to 4-week intervals to get the look you are after. Medium-depth peels may be repeated within 6 to 12 months after the initial treatment.

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